Branch County Historical Society's

Genealogy

Information Page

Contact us at:

Wing House Museum

27 South Jefferson Street

Coldwater, MI, 49036

Attn: Dave McDonald

      So, you want to do genealogy

by:

David McDonald

 

     People have always had a fascination with their family history.  Who were your great grandparents?  Where were they born and did they grow up near their birthplace or thousands of miles from their native home.  Some people are lucky enough to have well recorded family histories handed to them.  Then, there are the rest of us.

However, today let’s just talk about the hard part.  You know.  That blank sheet of paper in front of you and your keen interest in filling it in with your family history.

     With the advent of the personal computer and the web, many use the excuse, “Well, as soon as I get the ‘X’ brand software and my new laptop I am going to get started!”  Those very tools can be the biggest crutches a person ever encounters with genealogy, for NOT starting.

     You do not need a computer.  You do not need ‘do all’ software in order to work on your family history, and one of the most interesting hobbies you can engage in for personal enjoyment and family curiosity.

In fact, I would recommend for any beginning novice that you do quite the opposite to start.  Get a $2.00 3-ring binder, some family history forms from your local library or bookstore.  Sit down with family members and start recording an outline of what you know to be factual.  Nothing you do at this point is for not.  You are learning the first steps of organization and structure necessary for creating a good and accurate family history.  I cannot tell you how many people are out there, notebook computer under arm, software loaded and a totally worthless conglomeration of fiction loaded as ‘their’ family history.

     Worst yet, they are more than willing to share it with you.  “My family history!”  “Your family history!”  “Several unrelated people’s family histories!”  But they have achieved a goal of ‘X’ number of names logged in the wonderful new genealogy software file.  Wow, I’m impressed, not!  How about you?

Genealogy is a slow game of substantiated facts.  Your facts.  Your family history.  Learn to do it correctly.  A curious mind, a desire to know and learn, a #2 pencil, a few forms and a ring binder are all the tools you need to start this rewarding hobby.  You become the family historian.

     What are your questions on genealogy?  You might be surprised at the number of people with the same question.  Send it along to our attention at the Wing House Museum at the address above, and we will look at your question as a possible article.

 

 

                 Historically Speaking           

Step back in time to a less complicated life when water came from the cistern, there was a fireplace in every room for heat and forms of elegance could be found in decor to glassware. The Wing House Museum located at 27 S. Jefferson Street in Coldwater, Michigan is a prime example of 19th century Second Empire architecture. Learn how families worked and thrived in the late 1800’s at this home museum that is one of the few open year-around to the public by appointment.  Please contact Penny at (517) 278-8030 for a tour.

The home was built for newlyweds Jay and Frances Chandler in 1875. Discover the turn of events that led to the dissolution of their marriage and the subsequent sale of their beautiful home to prominent businessman Lucius Wing in 1882.

Home was purchased from the Wing Family and became home to the Branch County Historical Society. The Society hosts an annual Holiday Home Tour and Old Fashioned Wassail the first Saturday in December, Friday Night Desserts following Tibbits professional players performances, they host private dinners, luncheons and other fund raisers to keep this jewel maintained.

The Branch County Historical Society is committed to preserving the heritage of the County, including Bronson, Coldwater, Quincy and Union City. We are always looking for new ideas and members to help with this cause. For more information or if you are interested in joining the organization, please click here.

The Wing House Museum

 

About Branch County, Michigan
Located along the U.S. 12 Heritage Route


Branch County was a primeval wilderness a little more than one hundred and fifty years ago, inhabited only by the Potawatommie Indians. While it is true that there were trading posts within the limits of what is now, Branch County as early as 1825. The first actual white settler appears to have been Jabe Bronson, who made his home in 1828 in the city now bearing his name, Bronson.

The old Sauk Trail between Detroit and Chicago (now known as Chicago Rd. Or US 12) saw great numbers of pioneers passing this way, bound Illinois and other parts of what was then the “far west”. The presence of the Indians deterred many that would otherwise have settled here.

It was in 1821 that Chief Topinabee and his people sold to the white man what is now the County of Branch, though they continued to occupy it as before, on reservations. Branch County is now home to many manufacturers that supply parts to the automotive industry.

Named for John Branch, President Andrew Jackson's secretary of the navy, was one of thirteen counties established by the territorial legislature in 1829. The village of Branch, located three miles southwest of Coldwater was the original county seat, but in 1842 county commissioners decreed that the seat be moved to Coldwater. In 1848 a courthouse was erected on this site.

The Chicago Road (now US-12) and the coming of the Michigan Southern Railroad in 1850 attracted settlers. During the 1850s and 1860s, Coldwater was a horse training and breeding center. Local breeders provided three thousand horses to the Union Army during the Civil War. In the 1870s and 1880s, the manufacture of cigars contributed to Coldwater's prosperity. In 1882, some 13.4 million cigars were manufactured in Coldwater.

Chief Topinabee
 
John Branch

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